Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil was revealed as the No. 99 best player in the NFL (voted by his peers) before the start of the 2012 season. It was around that same time when he took out a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer predicting the Panthers would end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this weekend in New Orleans.
On Tuesday, when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens participated in Media Day at the Superdome, Kalil was in Charlotte rehabbing his surgically repaired foot. The 6-2, 295-pound former 2007 second-round selection (59th overall out of USC) replied “probably not” when he was asked whether he would buy more newspaper advertising revenue next year.
“It didn’t work out? What do you mean?” Kalil joked. “The Super Bowl’s this week?”
Kalil told the Observer’s Joseph Person that he has no regrets about promising a Super Bowl appearance for a team that had to fight at the end of the season for a 7-9 finish.
“Look, I have no misconception about how hard it is to win in this league. But I’m not the kind of guy who can buy into managing expectations or rebuilding or timing,” he said. “Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s just not how I feel.”
In two seasons, the Panthers are 13-19 under head coach Ron Rivera, but the team’s strong finish — winning five of its final six contests — bought Rivera another year.
Kalil, who has started 68 games and appeared in 71 contests in six seasons, also added that the team neesd to learn how to win close games if it wants to become a legitimate playoff contender. Under Rivera, the Panthers are 2-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less.
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter.